Wed, Jun 09, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Nation braces for Typhoon Conson

AFP AND DPA , TAIPEI

Fishermen take shelter at a port in Taitung yesterday. The Central Weather Bureau issued an alert yesterday as Typhoon Conson was approaching the East Coast.

PHOTO: LEE LI-FA, TAIPEI TIMES

Authorities are preparing for torrential rain and strong winds as Typhoon Conson gains momentum, officials said yesterday.

The typhoon was last night upgraded to a medium-strength typhoon by the Central Weather Bureau.

At 10pm last night, the storm's center was 220km south-southwest of Oluanpi, the southernmost tip of Taiwan, the bureau said. The typhoon is predicted to make landfall at 8pm tonight.

Packing gusts of up to 155kph, Conson was moving north-northeast at 11kph.

The bureau warned of heavy downpours in southern areas, urging residents to take precautions against flooding and landslides.

At press time, the typhoon was likely to traverse Taiwan, possibly leaving land in the northwestern counties of Taoyuan or Hsinchu.

The Ministry of National Defense said the military has set up a control center and ordered its personnel to stand by for rescue duties.

The bureau issued a land warning at around noon yesterday. The warning closed down the popular Kenting beaches in southern Pingtung County, which is expected to bear the brunt of the storm, while fishing boats have sought shelter at ports.

Meanwhile, water management officials yesterday expressed anger at the theft of at least 68 sluice gates across the country, saying the thefts could wreak unnecessary damage upon areas already threatened by the typhoon.

Yesterday, while making preparations for the storm, an astonished Water Conservancy Department discovered that 68 smaller sluice gates were missing.

"We have reinstalled 42 of them so far, but reinstallation of 26 gates in Taichung and Chiayi counties is not yet complete," an official said.

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